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Centre City Underpass Enhancement Program


One of the objectives of the Centre City Plan (2007) is to make the Centre City a ‘walkable place that is safe, secure, accessible, legible, interesting and enjoyable for pedestrians’. The Plan endorses the redevelopment and improvement of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) underpasses that connect the Downtown and Beltline Communities.  With 36,000 residents and over 161,000 Calgarians working in the Centre City, the underpasses play a critical mobility role. The current physical condition of many of the CPR underpasses contradicts their mobility and gateway functions.

In 2010 Council endorsed the “Downtown Underpass Urban Design Guidelines”. The guidelines promote a unified vision for the underpasses, with careful consideration for the local context and current state of each.

1st Street S.W Underpass Enhancement Project

The 1st Street S.W. underpass is one of Calgary's two oldest surviving railroad bridges in the City. As the former site of the CPR station, 1st Street S.W. is an important piece of Calgary's heritage as it was the heart of the community and the site where thousands of people arrived and departed from the city. It helped transform Calgary from a small frontier town to a thriving cosmopolitan area.

Today, the 1st Street S.W. underpass serves as a high volume corridor for north â€" south pedestrian movement and is a key gateway into both the Beltline and Downtown. With over 9,500 pedestrians per day, the underpass sees the highest pedestrian usage of the downtown underpasses and its enhancement has been identified as a priority by the City of Calgary.

In the spring of 2012, The City of Calgary, in partnership with the community and corporate stakeholders, worked together to identify shared interests and inform design solutions. The work envisioned is to improve pedestrian activity and corridor connectivity while brightening the area for pedestrians.

The Marc Boutin architectural collaborative was contracted to engage stakeholders in developing a schematic design (pictured above). The purpose of the design was to celebrate the heritage of the underpass, its 'gateway' function to the downtown and other important urban design principles such as safety, connectivity, accessibility, vitality and beauty. In December 2012, the created schematic design was selected for a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence.

The 1st Street SW underpass enhancement project was completed in 2016.​​

5th Street S.W Underpass Enhancement Project

The City of Calgary has launched the planning and design phase for the 5 Street S.W. Underpass Enhancement Project. The underpass has been identified by The City as a priority for public realm improvements to increase the comfort of pedestrians using the site. Public engagement will be a key part of the design process. Find out more detailed information about the project and engagement here​.

4th Street S.W. Underpass Enhancement Project

This project is currently under construction. Find out more about the project or its design here.

8th Street S.W. Underpass Enhancement Project​

Construction has started on enhancements to the 8th St. S.W. underpass, located between 8 Avenue and 10 Avenue, to provide greater safety and comfort for users of underpass pedestrian walkways.

The 8 Street S.W. underpass was chosen as a high priority area to be improved due to its high pedestrian usage (8,700 pedestrians per day) and as a link between the Beltline and Downtown.

The scope of work includes new sidewalks, concrete surfaces, LED lighting, public art, and repairs and maintenance of upper and lower retaining walls.

The budget for this project is $8.8 million and substantial completion of the enhancements is anticipated for the end of 2015. Final construction elements (e.g. landscaping) will be done in the spring of 2016.

For more information on this project, please view Calgary traffic report and road closures.

Contact Centre City

For more information on Centre City projects, please call 3-1-1.